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Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC

Review Date: Dec 27, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, very well built
If I have to nominate, probably the distortion of long horizontals, but no deal breaker, and the fact that the distances on the focus ring are inaccurate. I'll explain this later.

I shoot with a 6D, have several top "L" lenses and have used this lens quite a bit: overseas, around the dinner table and in the street. Top IQ. I use it mainly at f5.6, with or without flash, but it handles f2.8 quite well. However, being manual focus, I spent quite a while working out how to use the distance scale on the focus ring because I can't visually discern focus through the viewfinder with such a wide angle of view. The issue there was that the distance scale is inaccurate; in other words, 3feet on the barrel doesn't focus on objects 3 feet away. But it's all right now, in fact ... well, I love this lens. I have worked it out, know where to set the focus ring for my particular subject, and get 100% keeper rate regarding accurate focus. I know it's lovely to just whack the lens on and start shooting, but this lens needs some time, which, if you are like me, is a great excuse to take and test lots of pictures and play with your gear. It may not suit a happy snapper or the more impatient.

As for that moustache distortion, yeah, I occasionally see it, but not often. For example, I got the edge of a long roof horizontally into most of the frame first time I noticed the distortion, but then, I can shoot ocean scenes where you'd think the horizon would warp, but unless the horizon takes up most of the frame, distortion isnt an issue. I mean if, say, you have beach or headland in 1/3 of the frame, distortion of the horizon isn't noticeable. For all other shots where straight lines don't dominate, like interiors or around the streets, no problems. If I made money out of ultra wide photography, I'd probably test it first, but for a hobbyist like me, that distortion is a minor trade off for, otherwise, excellent optics. Really, so many pix from this lens are so satisfying that the occasional wonky horizon doesn't worry me.

So it's a really good lens that benefits from some trial and error to refine the focusing.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Dec 26, 2014 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Image stabilisation, zoom range, build, saturation and contrast

I shoot with a 6D and bought this lens with the camera. I also have several other "L" lenses. The 24-105 has been overseas several times and used, informally, for weddings and everything else. Let me say that I am a pixel peeper and my issue with the lens became sharpness. I stopped using it at f4 a long time ago as it was too soft for me. f5.6-f8 are pretty good, but I guess "pretty good" stopped satisfying. I've taken some very nice shots with it, sharp enough and looking good at full size on screen. I'm not damning it outright, but in my heart of hearts, I knew I wanted more and that I could have it, so I tried the 24-70 f4 and it was sharper but some of the reviews put me off because of the softness at 50mm. In the end I bit the bullet and bought the 24-70 f2.8 mkii. A totally satisfying lens regarding IQ. Stabilisation would be nice, but the IQ makes up for it.

So I can give the 24-105 7/10 for IQ. As for convenience, colour, IS, build, reliability ... 10/10.

Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Dec 24, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $670.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, lovely background blur, size
Nothing serious.

I shoot with a Canon 6D and this is a very nice lens indeed. Sharper than the 24-105 at any of its focal lengths or apertures, not quite as sharp as the 24-70 f2.8 mkii in the centre. Certainly sharper than the 15-85 if you are using a crop sensor. Very good at f2.8 and excellent at f4-f8, but keep the shutter speed up. I try to keep it at 1/500+, the higher the better. This might mean raising the ISO or staying at f2.8. Immediately after buying the lens, I didn't really understand the great reviews but I saw the light when I started shooting at 1/640. Made all the difference. I get some sharp shots at 1/250, but inconsistently. Still get the occasional unfocused image from camera shake at even very high speeds, like 1/2000, so take a few extra shots; don't rely on that one quickie. Interestingly, the 135mm f2 is easier (more consistent) for me to hand hold at lower shutter speeds,and it's only a little shorter. That 200mm length seems to be the threshold for me, at which either my technique or general steadiness begin to have a significant impact on hand-held shots. I tried a monopod but no better. Keep your elbows tucked in and always be aware of the shutter speed. During the day it is not at all difficult to keep that shutter speed up, especially with a full frame that handles, say, ISO 400 very well. And then this is a really good lens. And much less intrusive than the 70-200s. But stabilisation is wonderful.